Day 2: Eat this Book
And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. (Ezekiel 3:1-2)
I’ve heard of people eating some strange things when they were really hungry. Leather from their boots. Candles. Grass. But books?
If you are feeling just a little puzzled, you’re not alone, and I’m with you too. Ezekiel, priest of Israel called to speak to his people as a prophet during their darkest hours of being sent into exile, receives an overwhelming call to speak to the people – both bad news and good news…
God says to him: Eat this book (scroll). Wait, what?
There’s something important going on in this strange passage (as if Ezekiel weren’t strange enough already). It includes, but goes beyond, our rationality. I believe it has to do with the mysteriously powerful, and the powerfully mysterious way God’s Word gets into our lives – and the role that plays in our practicing the Discipline of Rejoicing: intentionally dethroning everything but God in our lives, and replacing it with the deep satisfaction that comes from Jesus.
For many (or most) the Bible can feel imposing, intimidating, weird, and problematic. It’s full of wars, laws, miracles, lists, a God who is amazingly loving and forgiving, and also fierce with wrath. Then there’s Jesus’ ethics: Love your enemies? Do good to those who persecute you?
Mark Twain once said, “It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts that I do understand.”
We want to understand. This where the good news comes in…
The first time I was in Mozambique, our hosts there prepared a sumptuous treat to honor and thank us: boiled goat liver, wrapped in intestines. (Gulp.) Their whole culture, the life of the people, the very best they could bring, was represented by that meal. They wanted me to eat it. When I did (and yes I did), I took all of it into myself.
What God wants to give us is himself. In all its weirdness to us from our point of view, to take it into ourselves.
People in the church talk a lot about “Bible Study,” but even that phrase is inadequate. Yes, we should bring everything we have to Scripture – all our tools, the best thinking, etc. But at the end of the day, it’s not really we who study the Bible, but the Bible that studies us. To understand means to stand under. We don’t judge the Bible, it judges us. We don’t understand it, so much as it understands us. It doesn’t enter our world so much as we enter its world.
So this is an indispensable part of the Discipline of Rejoicing: read the Bible. Eat this book.
Where to start? Here are a few ideas (and there are many more, just ask):
· Daily Audio Bible app (https://dailyaudiobible.com/)
· The Story: https://www.thestory.com/. Also, https://www.amazon.com/Story-Continuing-Selections-International-Version/dp/031095097X (We have some of these resources for you at Westminster.)
· The Bible Project videos (https://bibleproject.com/)
Eat this book.
Bob Jacobs is Pastor of Westminster Church, Rapid City. Check out his personal blog at www.brittlecrazyglass.wordpress.com.